"taetae, what the hell are you doing?" tiffany stands from the chair to stop her wife, who's already walking out of the bar's office where they took you after you broke down.
"i am calling that wanker over." taeyeon presses the phone next to her ear. "she needs to take responsibility for what she's done to my cousin."
"take responsibility for what? it's not like she got irene pregnant!"
"i don't care. i need to teach that kid a less--" taeyeon stops. "hey, seulgi. are you done with yuri yet?"
"unni, please don't--" you are about to stand, but taeyeon signals you to stay seated on the couch as she walks out of the office.
sighing, tiffany shakes her head and goes back to sitting beside you on the couch.
"how are you feeling?" she places a hand on your lap.
"ashamed," you whisper as you fiddle with your fingers. "it's not seulgi's fault i'm having a hard time dealing with this. we both wanted it, and i was the one who asked us to stop."
"yeah. but it's also not your fault that you fell in love with her, you know?"
you shift your gaze to tiffany, then back to your hands. you nod.
it's something you've never acknowledged before, your feeling towards seulgi. you were too afraid to label it, knowing you're not supposed to feel something like that towards a woman--especially a much younger one.
but now that you've told tiffany and taeyeon about it, it feels like a weight was lifted off your shoulders.
"i wonder tho..." tiffany taps your leg, getting your attention. "given the number of flings seulgi had, can you confirm if she's that good in bed?"
you blush at that. "unni..."
"come on. don't be shy now." tiffany playfully nudges you. "you wouldn't be like that if she didn't give you a good time. and she's still young. i'm sure she's as active as my byuntae--if not, even more."
you shyly look away as you run a hand up and down your arm.
"and now that you've tasted both sides, which one do you prefer?" tiffany asks further, making you blush even more.
"unni... i... i don't think it's about the gender," you shyly say, not meeting her eyes. "i think it's about the person. if you like the person, you'd feel good for sure."
tiffany gives you that serious-looking smile before she tidies your hair. "awe. you really are in love, aren't you? our baby bunny is all grown up now."
your moment is disturbed when taeyeon comes back in, a devious smile adorning her face. she cracks her knuckles.
"okay. she's coming over. imma break some bones later."
taeyeon asked you to stay in the office when seulgi confirmed she's arrived at the bar.
tiffany followed her wife out to make sure no one would get murdered tonight.
so, you sit and wait, not sure what to expect. it makes you nervous knowing seulgi's in the same area as you--just a couple of metres away for you to touch.
is krystal still with her tho?
and what could taeyeon be telling seulgi right now? gosh. you wish it's not something you'd be embarrassed about.
the music penetrating from the bar alerts you when the door opens.
your heartbeat rises at the sight of a figure holding the door, still in that familiar white dress shirt, head turned away talking to somebody outside.
the said person finally pushes the door open and lets herself in before closing it behind her.
the noise is minimised, and the two of you are there, alone.
you clench your hands on your lap and swallow an imaginary mass in your throat.
seulgi's got her sleeves folded now. you wonder where her coat is, but you set the thought aside as what's more important is she's there, standing in front of you.
"hey," she finally manages to say.
"i... uh..." she scratches the side of her neck and points outside. "so... taeyeon called me and uh... talked to me about you."
you close your eyes and hang your head low. "please ignore her. i don't want you to feel obligated only because i am a mess."
she doesn't respond right away. you wonder what's on her mind.
"well, we're both a mess then," she says. "ain't that good?"
you open your eyes to look at her.
"look." seulgi inhales as she shifts her weight from one leg to the other. "to make things clear, i am not in any way well this past few weeks. i wasn't okay when you asked me to stop. i only stopped because i don't want to add up to the bunch of concerns you're already dealing with. but if this is affecting you this much, don't you think it's about time to give yourself a break? to make yourself happy, at least for once?"
you let out a dejected sigh. "seulgi, you know all too well it's not that easy for me..."
"i know. but i am also aware now that you're hurting. the question is, how long are you planning to hurt yourself like that?"
your response is a head shake.
"i... i can do something about that if you'll let me." she brings a hand to her chest. "i want to make you happy, irene. whatever it is you're going through, i know i won't be able to stop the pain, but i can cover your wounds for you. i can be that person who'll hug you whenever you need to cry. you don't need to be perfect in front of me. you know that, right?"
you press your lips together and narrow your eyes, looking away as you try your best not to cry.
seulgi slowly, hesitantly, makes her way to you, kneeling in front of you, her comforting warmth invading your senses.
oh how you miss her being this close to you.
she gently takes your shaking hands in hers. "i don't want to be selfish by forcing you to be with me. but if you're hurting as much as i am, and we obviously want the same thing, then it means i have the right to fight for this, right?"
you gently presses seulgi's fingers with yours, asking yourself if this is real. but you can feel her. she's there. you might not admit it to yourself, but you feel better now even if she hasn't done anything yet.
"believe me, i want to do this. but i'm scared, seulgi," you admit, breathless, helpless. "i'm scared of what i'm feeling. i shouldn't be feeling this. it's wrong."
"what are you saying? irene, feelings are neither right nor wrong. they are true. you can't simply ignore your feelings because it's... wrong." seulgi shakes her head. "you have to feel that. let it burn you. otherwise, you'll destroy yourself, your life, your sanity."
"but i'm scared of what will happen if my family finds out. i'm scared of how the people would look at me. i'm scared of going against all odds and taking chances with you. what if you leave me someday for someone younger and better?"
"no, seulgi. you have to understand. you're so young. this could just be just a phase in your life. i'm sure you wouldn't want to be stuck with someone like me forever. and if that day comes, what would happen to me?"
seulgi leans away, looking at you with knitted brows as if what you said is absurd.
"what are you saying? listen to me." she gently grasps the sides of your arms and looks straight into your eyes. "irene, i am ing crazy over you. did you hear that? i'm so ing crazy to the point i'm willing to do this with you even if it means you leaving me lifeless and broken after. ask me to ride a ship to hell with you, i'll ride it, no questions asked. and i'm going to make sure i'll hold your hand tight until you get tired of me and ask me to let go."
you clasp a hand to your mouth when an involuntary sob rack through your chest.
seulgi kisses your free hand. "irene, i... i've never felt something like this before. i've never wanted anyone like this before. i'm absolutely and helplessly bowled over by you. and i would prove that to you every single day, as long as you want me to, even if i die trying."
"seulgi..." is all you could make out in your current crying state. "seulgi..."
"i'm here, love. i'm here." she presses your hand against her cheek. "i promise i won't go. i'll be here as long as you want me to stay."
"you can't... i won't..." you sob again. "stay..."
seulgi's face softens. she closes her eyes as a set of tears fall down her cheeks. she takes in a deep breath before she sits beside you, pulling you into her arms.
she kisses the side of your head and lets you lean your head on her shoulder.
"maybe we should start ignoring each other in school; what do you think?" seulgi asks after your crying finally subsides. "like not talk to each other at all to avoid speculations."
"agreed. it'll just be a few weeks before the semester ends, anyway. make sure not to take any of my subjects next time. you've been in my classes for three semesters now. people may start noticing."
"yes, ma'am. but can we see each other again, after school?"
you hum as you squeeze yourself further into the crook of her neck. "i want you to make an effort to see me daily, either in your place or my place."
"okay." seulgi makes patterns at the back of your hand. "you sure you want to do this with me?"
"shouldn't i be the one asking you that? you're the one with a bad experience dating a religious woman before."
you hear her smile. "i told you, i don't care. if in time you'll decide to leave me for your faith, i'll accept it. but i'm going to make sure to set the bar too high so your next relationships won't satisfy you."
you playfully pinch her side. "is that what you did with your ex? that kid krystal?"
"kid? she's my age!"
"she's a kid to me. a kid who always steals your coats."
"eh? aren't you a jealous girlfriend?"
you pull away to look at her. "i don't want you wearing that coat again. throw that away. i'll buy you a new one."
seulgi blinks. "a-are you serious?"
she stares at you for seconds before she smiles and pulls you back into her embrace.
not long after that, taeyeon and tiffany emerge from the door to ask how your talk went.
seulgi doesn't let go of her hold on you as she bravely answers taeyeon's questions.
it all ended well when taeyeon and tiffany give you their approval--not without taeyeon throwing threats if seulgi hurts you again.
all the pain and hardship these past few days are now swept away by this moment. for the first time in weeks, you feel genuinely happy.
you know many problems are yet to come your way now that you've chosen to go down this path. but you don't want to think about that yet.
what's important is this moment right here with seulgi. having her around makes everything feel right and light. the world is full of colours again.
if this isn't love, then you don't know what is.